Geese are members of the Anatidae family of birds that include ducks and swans. They are a very successful species with varieties present all over the world. Geese typically migrate from one part of the world to another as the seasons change in search of mating sites and food.
Some types of geese have been domesticated and specifically bred for their meat and eggs. All geese are adapted for aquatic environments and have webbed feet for propulsion and waxy feathers to keep water off their bodies.
Types of Geese
Wild geese varieties include:
· Canada goose
The Canada Goose is one of the most common geese you will find in the UK. According to the RSPB, there are 62, 000 breeding pairs in the county and more than 190, 000 that overwinter here. You can identify these geese by their black neck and the large throat patch that extends upwards behind the eyes.
· Brent goose
The brent goose is small in stature - about the same size as a mallard. It is a common goose. However, it tends to make its home away from people, so you are less likely to see it in the wild. Unlike most geese, it flies in flocks instead of a triangular formation.
· Egyptian goose
The Egyptian goose is an evolutionary relative of the shelduck. It is mostly pale brown with red-green colouration on the wings and a dark eye patch. Originally it was ornamental wildfowl but was released into the wild by accident before it became a successful subtype in its own right. It is estimated that there are around 3, 400 of these birds in the UK over winter.
· Greylag goose
The greylag goose is one of the most common in the UK and found close to bodies of water all over the country. It is the largest geese native to Europe and is recognisable for its orange bill and grey-white colourations.
· Pink-footed goose
The pink-footed goose has pink flippers and spends most of its time travelling between breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland before returning to temperate regions for the winter roost. It has a tan-coloured body, a darker head, and grey wings.
· Taiga bean goose
The taiga bean goose looks similar to more common geese found throughout Europe but has a darker colour around the neck and head. It is larger than the related tundra bean goose and has a longer neck but has similar plumage.
· White-fronted goose
The white-fronted goose has a wingspan between 130 and 165 cm and weighs between 2 and 2. 5 kg. It has orange legs and a distinctive white patch surrounding the bill. It doesn’t breed in the UK but migrates to the country over winter.
What Are Geese Teeth?
Unlike mammals, geese don’t have teeth that connect to a jawbone. Instead, they have a variety of apparatus in their mouths designed to sieve, rip and process the food that they eat.
Similar to other species in the Anatidae family, geese have small protrusions that stick out of their bills. They look like teeth to the untrained eye, but these structures aren’t teeth in the sense that we would understand them. They aren’t made of enamel, pulp and dentin like human teeth. Instead, they’re made of a compound called tomium which is similar to the cartilage that forms the nose and outer-ear on the human body.
Interestingly, the geese teeth are made of the same substance of the beak itself. They do not contain any enamel. Even so, they are still sharp and hard, capable of ripping through vegetation and small prey. If a goose bites you, it may cause you to bleed.
Geese also have tomium “teeth” on their tongues. This feature gives the tongue a serrated edge which, again, helps when consuming reedy foods on riverbanks. It allows them to consume a greater variety of grains, roots and stems, and it helps when ripping vegetation from the ground.
Is It A Flock of Geese Or A Gaggle Of Geese?
Nouns that describe groups of animals are one of the most confusing features of the English language, and there are no exceptions when it comes to describing geese.
When geese are on the ground, they are known as a gaggle of geese. When in flight, they called a wedge or team. If they are flying in formation, they are called a plump.
If you intend to use language correctly, you should not refer to any group of geese as a flock except when describing them as a flock of birds.
Things to Know About Geese Migration
Like many other species of bird, geese migrate. Their migration, however, depends on the species.
Brent geese: a dark-bellied variety bred in Russia, spend the winter in the south of England before travelling to Canada and Greenland to raise their young. Similarly, the Canada goose has breeding and nonbreeding sites where it splits its time during the year.
Typically, geese travel south during the winter to warmer climes to avoid the cold arctic winter. Once the season ends, they travel north again to their breeding sites to avoid predators.
Interestingly, though, some species of geese do not migrate much or at all. That’s why it is common to see popular geese species, such as the Canada goose, staying in the same location year-round, including to raise their young.
What Do Geese Eat?
Geese are opportunistic grazing animals, meaning that they will take advantage of a variety of food sources as they become available. These birds evolved to consume a large number of species of plants and animals that exist in aquatic environments.
Geese derive the bulk of their calories from shoots, stems, seeds, leaves and grass. They will also sometimes eat bulbs and berries as well as insects.
Some species of goose submerge their heads under the water to eat plants growing on the bottom of rivers and lakes.
If you want to feed geese in your area, you should use specific feed from the pet shop, not white bread from the supermarket.